To run, or not to run?The Heppner Sheep Dog Trial was last weekend. The food and hospitality were top notch. The set out was perfect. Angie Untiz did the set out with help, and every set that I saw was spot on.
The sheep were a challenge the first day, they were hard to handle in the morning. Some dogs couldn't move them, some moved them too much. By the second day, they were lovely. They were all healthy and even, well fed and cared for. In the afternoon, the wind blew hard in our faces, making things difficult. The weather was cold and frustrating. The company was warm and the atmosphere was light and full of laughter and bantering. We all took turns being the butt of the joke. I think I may have taken an extra turn, and Ray Crabtree never got a turn. Is it because he is the announcer at all the big trials, or couldn't we come up with anything? The humor fixed the weather, and made you feel like it was worth it.
Gale ended up lame the morning of the trial, she was limping on her right front. I proceeded to drive myself and anyone within ten feet of me crazy trying to decide whether I should run her or not. Was it minor, like a toe nail, or major? I toughened up and so did she, and I ran her both days. I found it hard to concentrate, knowing she was hurting a bit. She ran well, ending up 4th overall. The best news is it looked like the right decision, as she is hardly limping now.
Norman ran Brian Richard's Cody. On his first run he crashed them at the top, and then proceeded to clean up his mess, but too late, as Norm hustled down the field. It was his first Open, and only his 3rd trial and probably a bit much. His next run he did some funky stuff on his outrun and then made it to the top and looked great from there on, losing only 4 points on his drive. A great improvement that left us excited to run him again.
My young Jess was also on the run order. I had been praying for brakes, as she is a forward moving thing. The first day at the top she had some brakes. I was thrilled with her, I was able to slow her down to try to be accurate, but she was still able to walk into the range ewes and move them, which is always a relief. Her brakes failed on her second run though, but by the fetch panel she decided to listen and we got around pretty good. My driving was a bit off and I made her miss a panel, I hate that. She ended up tied for 15th overall out of 56, not terrible for her first Open trial.
Norm also ran his Meg, a very obedient bitch that he loves dearly. She, like the others, has little trial experience. She really struggled and it was unclear whether she was having issues hearing or if the sheep had her rattled, but her first run was very disappointing. Her second run was a huge improvement, she was hearing at the top and looking more like herself. Norm hustled her along to the pen and she hustled the sheep along, grabbing one in the buns. Norm made it easy for the judge and excused himself.
There was enough daylight to also allow Norman's third dog Blaze to run. He was very respectable, scoring a 73 the second day without a pen, and ending up 6th overall. Just a side note about Blaze, I am looking for a weak moment so I can whisk him to my side of the kennel. As of now, I have had mercy on Norm, but Blaze is so much like my Gale I am not sure I can keep it up.
As far as other dogs that turned our heads, we both came up with the same answer: Lavon Caltzacort's Gus really looked good. He flanked nicely and when asked to come forward, forward he came. Scott Glen's June is a beautiful mover. If you don't appreciate her athleticism and grace you may need to check your pulse.
|Heppner Trial field from above|
|Heppner Trial field from above|